So is their disdain for anyone not on board 100% with their agenda. They quite literally see anyone opposed to or even skeptical of their reform agenda as "dirt" to be swept out with the trash.
Notice how Judith Warner in yesterday's NY Times hits on all these points in her piece about Michelle Rhee:
Around the country, supporters of education reform — or at least of the test-scores-driven, tenure-busting, results-rewarding sort of reform epitomized by organizations like Teach for America and championed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan — gave a collective gasp of dismay last month when voters in a number of districts handed primary defeats to candidates closely associated with just this type of reform. In New York, three state-senate candidates who ran on pro-charter-school platforms each failed to garner more than 30 percent of the vote. In Washington, voters overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of the City Council chairman, Vincent Gray, as the Democratic candidate in this year’s mayoral election. The Fenty defeat worried many people particularly because he was inextricably linked with his crusading, nationally celebrated schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee.
Rhee, who was appointed by Fenty in 2007 and given unprecedented power to shake up the ailing school system, fired hundreds of teachers and dozens of bureaucrats and principals, even removing the popular head of her daughters’ elementary school in the northwest part of the district. She demanded that the city’s tenure system be replaced with one that would reward teachers for producing measurable performance gains in their students. For her efforts, she became a heroine to some — gracing the cover of Time magazine, earning the praise of the Obama administration and an invitation to appear on “Oprah” — but she also received enormous enmity from teachers, their unions and, surprisingly enough to outside observers, many public-school parents, not a few of whom were profoundly offended when, the night after the mayoral primary, Rhee appeared at the Washington premiere of Davis Guggenheim’s much-talked-about education documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” and told an assemblage of prominent Washingtonians that the election results “were devastating, devastating. Not for me, I’ll be fine . . . but devastating for the school children of Washington, D.C.”
In the local blogs that buzzed with outrage after Rhee’s comment, a theme became clear: people — even people who seemed destined to most benefit from the work of a committed reformer like Rhee — don’t like to get the message that their communities are on the wrong track. That their schools are no good, the teachers in them subpar; that their decision to back a politician who doesn’t share the reformer’s particular style of quasi-missionary zeal would consign their kids to disaster.
It became clear that people don’t much like stern-faced do-gooders telling them how to think and what to do; that they prefer “a reform agenda that’s being done with people, not to people,” as Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, recently put it. They don’t like collective slap-downs — like the one Rhee managed when she referred to the hundreds of fired teachers indiscriminately in an interview with a business magazine as people who “had hit children, who had had sex with children.” They don’t like to see respected members of their community seemingly compared to dirt, as Rhee unthinkingly did by agreeing to pose on the cover of Time wielding a big broom. They like policy makers who at least appear to be taking their concerns to heart, as Rhee pointedly did not, bluntly telling the magazine: “I’m not going to pretend to solicit your advice so you’ll feel involved, because that’s just fake.”
Washington residents, the majority of them African-American, many of them poor, all possessed, to varying degrees, of a sense of disenfranchisement — the city, after all, did not have the power to elect its own government until 1974 and must still submit its budget and laws for approval to Congress, where it lacks voting rights — take particularly poorly to these sorts of put-downs, says Michael Fauntroy, an associate professor of public policy at George Mason University. In fact, the black, often struggling residents of Washington — the vast majority of parents in the public-school system — have a hair-trigger intolerance for anything that smacks of paternalism or disdain by policy makers, particularly when they appear to be telling people how to run their lives and, most potentially offensive of all, how to educate their children. Fenty and Rhee, Fauntroy said, were perceived to have “an elite view of public policy: we know what’s better for your kids than you do, and because our ideas are better, yours are to be ignored, and ours are to be implemented.”
Now notice how the Obama administration is described in this Politico article:
On issue after issue, Obama has signed legislation at odds with the will of the American people. With an arrogance that can only stem from a profound certainty in his rightness, Obama and his team are conducting a colossal political experiment: testing whether leaders can retain power while governing without regard to public opinion.
Of the five major policies passed or debated in the last two years, a majority of Americans is not happy with four of them — the stimulus package, federal aid to automakers, health reform and government aid to banks and financial institutions in danger of failing. Only the financial reform legislation is popular with a majority of public, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
I would add education "reform"/Race to the Top to the list of policies that Obama has pursued that are at odds with what most people in the country would like to see done.
As shown in this Phi Delta Kappa poll taken in late August, support for the president's education policies have fallen since last year and MOST Americans do not like his Close Schools/Fire Teachers policies at all.
Yet the president, as arrogant and disdainful of ordinary Americans as Michelle Rhee is of ordinary Washingtonians (i.e., those she doesn't dine with on the Village Cocktail Circuit), doesn't care what Americans think.
He is also not interested in hearing any policy ideas that do not conform to what he already believes. As Diane Ravitch said here, people in the administration aren't interested in hearing any criticism of their program and aren't planning to change any of it either:
Q) Have you met with any Obama administration officials? Members of Congress? What do you say? What did they say?We have an arrogant, misinformed president who has decided that only HE knows the answers needed to fix the problems in the school system or for that matter, the health care system, the financial system, etc.
A) I was recently invited to meet with high-level administration officials in the White House. I told them my concerns. I told them what I have heard from teachers and parents. They told me I was misinformed. I think they should listen more to the grassroots, not just to the think tanks and the media. Over the past few weeks, I have met with many Democratic members of Congress. I have met some really impressive members who understand how destructive the current "reform" movement is. Many agree with me that the emphasis on evaluating teachers will simply produce more teaching to the test, more narrowing the curriculum, more gaming the system. They have heard from their constituents, and they don’t like what is going on.
But frankly, these same Congressmen and women tell me that they are probably helpless to stop the President’s agenda. The Democratic leadership will give the President and Secretary Duncan what they want, and they will have the support of Republicans. That leaves the Democrats in a quandary. They were not happy to see Secretary Duncan campaigning for his approach with Newt Gingrich. Maybe it will turn out to be a winning strategy for Secretary Duncan. He may get what he wants. It just won’t be good for American education or our kids.
But as I have posted over and over again, many of Obama's policy decisions have been more harmful than good, more half-baked than practical and helpful.
I won't revisit the list - you can see my critiques of the health care "reform" here, the mortgage relief plan here, the financial regulation reform here and here.
The point is, like Michelle Rhee and so many of the other "reformers," Mr. Obama has decided only HE has the correct answers for the problems in public education and anybody not on board with his agenda needs to be either ignored or swept out of the way with a broom.
But like Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty found in D.C., sometimes voters will take a broom of their own to arrogant politicians who ignore the will of the people.
Of course Bloomberg, Broad and Gates will always be there to provide money and support to the Rhees and the Obamas, so as Masking Tape Michelle noted in her speech to the Waiting for Superman crowd, she'll be fine. And so will Obama.
But maybe, just maybe, as people are getting a gander at the manipulative nature of the ed deform propaganda coming out these days, seeing the arrogance and intractability of the ed deformers themselves, and noticing that so many of their claimed solutions - like charter schools and merit pay - do NOT work, they'll take Michelle Rhee's broom and many of the other odious emblems and policies of the deform movement and put them into the trash where they belong.